Valdosta residents fear for their safety -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Valdosta residents fear for their safety

August 19, 2003

Valdosta - Nineteen year olds Frederick Thomas and Terrell Troutman and 22-year-old Jason Troutman, all of Valdosta, are in the Lowndes County jail tonight. Investigators believe they were involved in four recent drive by shootings.

Gerard Francios' cousin was outside his home yesterday when the suspects pulled up and shot him twice in the leg. "They saw three carloads of guys drive up, and when they got right there, they opened fire," said Francios.

Monday's shooting has Francios and other neighborhood residents thinking twice about their safety. "My nephew and mom stay here too, and those guys are just cowards for doing that," said Francios.

In another drive-by Monday, the suspects sent a bullet through a home on Ponderosa Drive and into a bedroom where a 12-year-old child was sleeping. Investigators say their motive may have been gang-related, but the shootings didn't occur in high crime neighborhoods.

"It seems to be one or two groups they're targeting in certain neighborhoods," said Lt. Brian Childress. "Not to say that the person shot yesterday was involved in gang activity, but we do think they were going through the city looking for certain locations."

Lt. Childress hopes the suspect's quick arrest sends a message. "We're going to get them, bring them before a judge, and they're going to serve time," said Childress.

And that should make residents like Francios feel safer in their homes.

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